Insider’s Guide To Staying at San Diego’s Best Beach Front Family Hotel

June 20, 2019

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san diego best kid friendly beach hotel


We. Stayed. Again.

That’s right, after 2 years too long, we went back to stay at The La Jolla Shores Hotel again. And it was SO WORTH THE ENCORE.

For those of you who haven’t read about our previous stay, you can catch all the details when we visited La Jolla Shores Hotel with a 3 and 4 year. old. Now we’re lucky enough to be here again. A little older, a little wiser, and a lot more rested. The kiddos are now 5 and 6 which presents a whole new level of freedom, activities and overall parenting ease. So join me as I outline the who, what, why and where behind booking this amazing staycation.  Local San Diegan trying to beat the heat or out of state visitor – you won’t want to miss all the insider tips I divulge in this one packed post.  Let’s go!

Why La Jolla Shores?

La Jolla Shores is the premier beach in San Diego and possibly all of southern California.  While I’m a fan of pretty much any beach, this particular beach is elevated to a class of its own. While tourist and locals alike can get caught off guard by the bigger waves, colder Pacific temperatures and the eclectic crowds at our other beaches – La Jolla Shores is isolated from all of that adorned with miles of flat white sandy beaches, calm waves and a friendly crowd of families and kids at all times.

San Diego’s Favorite (and a little bit of a hidden secret) Beachfront Hotel

la jolla shores hotel arial

During our stay, as I relaxed at the beachfront playground a few arms distances from our hotel room at The La Jolla Shores, I chatted with two moms from Arizona who asked if I was local and curious about my stay next door.  These moms were paying over 2x what the rates are at The La Jolla Shores Hotel to be several miles inland, with no ocean view, no outdoor space and probably in what is more of a business travelers hotel than a family-friendly hotel. It’s safe to say they were a mix of envious of my hotel choice over theirs but also looking forward to their next summer booking as well.

Do you know why they were at that inland hotel? They just didn’t know that this beachfront hotel paradise existed!

My father grew up in San Diego and sometimes it’s easy to forget that without a lifetime of trips down here, visitors and locals alike simply just might not know about some of San Diego’s best-hidden gems.

As much as I love the idea that this hotel is a secret oasis for locals and their family and friends visiting, I think it’s safe to say that there is room for us all. It’s time to let my fellow families travel better and stay at San Diego’s favorite (and a little bit of a hidden secret) beachfront hotel.

What Makes La Jolla Shores Hotel So Special

Views that will take your breath away

la jolla shores hotel kids patio view


The La Jolla Shores Hotel is not just “stand in a public place at the hotel lobby” view, but a “lie down in bed and feel like you’re at Tony Starks beach mansion” views.

From sunrise to sunset and even after dark there is an incredible balance of natural beauty and manmade activity to watch. If you are up early with the kids you’ll get to see the scuba divers heading into the water alongside the paddleboards out while the water is glassy calm. By the time you’ve walked down a block for coffee, brunch or breakfast you’ll be back to see the hotel’s tractor having raked the sand in front of the hotel. A little later, the kayakers and surf lessons while start followed by the locals coming to set up for a day on the beach.  Hour after hour the scenery in front of the hotel changes and brings excellent people watching. If you want to see people at their best, watch the people that come to this beach.

Insider Tip: The beach has the least people in the morning and is a great time for a stroll. Head south at low tide and you’ll discover one of San Diego’s best tide pools. If you head south and it’s not low tide the castle house is also a great sight to see. 

The Playground


The first thing to note is the La Jolla Shores Hotel has two playgrounds. The first is miles long and can’t be found anywhere else – the beach. If you want to see child and adults alike, forget about the existence of their cell phones and tablets head down to the sand and it will be like traveling back a decade.  Instead of having to bring towels, chairs, beach toys and all the things you will watch day visitors trek behind them on a large wagon – guests of The La Jolla Shores Hotel will have it provided and set up for them by the friendly hotel staff.

During our stay, we walked to breakfast, stopped by the playground, went to the room to play for a bit and within a few minutes of leaving our room were on the beach, under our umbrella and chairs were provided towels and sand toys.  If you have grandparents staying or visiting, a beachfront room at the hotel is the perfect way for them to get to be a part of everything but also have a shaded place to break while still getting to sit on their patio and watch the grandkids play on the sand and in the waves in front of them.

la jolla shores kellogg beach park

The other playground, the bonus jackpot on what already stands to be a vacation of a lifetime, is the Kellogg Park Playground.  This large grassy park next to the hotel and the beach is called Kellogg Park and is home to a stunning row of palm trees, a playground structure and swings that are a fan favorite of all kids.  When staying at the hotel we like to bookend our day with the playground.  A visit in the morning while the marine layer burns off and then a second visit after dinner at sunset are great ways for the kids to burn off some energy while the adults get to sit in a beautiful surrounding and chat.

Insider Tip: Heading to the beach in the morning is a great way to spend time before the marine layer burns off.  And ice cream truck pulls up between the hotel and the playground daily around 3 p.m.

The Hotel Amenities

If you are from out of state and visiting for the first time, trust we when I say having a pool and hot tub at your beachfront hotel is so important. The Pacific Ocean is cold and if you aren’t like my kids and completely impervious to the temperature you might not be doing quite as much ocean swimming as your planned.  But, even with colder ocean temperatures, the weather is still warm and having your hotel pool to hop into is the perfect way to end your afternoon at the beach.  A quick rinse of the sand, transition to pool time and poolside nachos and beverages and we’re set up for a whole second act of our water-focused day.  On that same note, for the kids who aren’t afraid of the ocean and then find themselves a bit chilly, the hot tub is the perfect way to warm up.

You’ll find great company in the fellow hotel guests who we found to be a lot like us. Similar age families, some with grandparents, some without. Many visiting from Arizona and all incredibly friendly and personable – I mean how can you not be staying at this hotel nex to this beach!


Insider Tip: Don’t miss the interior courtyard adjacent to the pool. It’s where you will find classic games and activities for the kids. The hotel’s small but well-appointed gym also overlooks the interior courtyard if you have older kids who can be less closely attended. 

The Rooms

To our surprise, since we last stayed here the rooms have all been renovated.  Filled with fresh white walls and crisp white linens the room vibes is very Malibu and an incredible upgrade.  Whether it be the bed or the sound of waves gently breaking a few hundred feet away, I will always have some of the best nights sleep at The La Jolla Shores Hotel.

Paired with the timeless views that will never go out of style, it creates a very comfortable stay that has you almost wanting to just stay in your room and enjoy the beach from inside.  We stayed in Room 134 and I would 100% recommend an upgrade to one of these corner patio rooms whenever possible. Even if you have to stay one night less, it is absolutely worth it. In our case, I would book the time I go based on when this particular room is available, it is just that amazing.

With kids, I always fear that our noise echos through the room and tend to sometimes feel trapped in the small space. That is never the case with these rooms because of the large outdoor patio that is probably the same size of the room those Arizona moms from the playground stayed in.

Our room and outdoor space were too expansive to capture with a photo so I made a quick video to show you just how massive it is.

The flow of the room to patio creates an entire second space for outdoor play during the day and an adult oasis at night when the kids are asleep inside.  One of my favorite spots is sitting on the patio, watching the beach that is light up at night from the hotel (they actually light the beach up at night so you can enjoy it after dark) and watching the blue underwater glow as the scuba divers come in and out of the water. If you ever need a spot to forget about whatever was worrying you in real life, this is it.

Insider Tip: Upgrade your room when booking because it is so worth the extra money. Don’t hope for an upgrade when you check-in because in high season, they simply will not have even 1 extra room available. 

Experience The Hotel As A Restaurant Guest

Here is one of the best local secrets to experience La Jolla Shores Hotel – be a guest of the hotel at their restaurant, The Shores Restaurant.  If you have never been to the hotel and want to see the views first hand, catch a sunset from inside their oceanfront restaurant, patio, and bar. The views are truly second to none and quite honestly one of San Diego’s best-kept secrets. While everyone else crowds down to Pacific or Ocean Beach and drags their kids through crowds of 20 something that might have been marathon drinking all day, we prefer to catch a sunset dinner, snack, or happy hour in the family-friendly company of the La Jolla Shores Hotel Guests.

If you come for dinner you’ll get 90 minutes of complimentary underground parking.  YES. That is correct, you will not have to circle the streets forever looking for parking, it’s as simple as parking underneath the hotel taking an elevator up and you are instantly ocean front without the headache hassle and long trek of street parking.  That means more time for appetizers, more time to catch the sunset perfectly set on the water while you’re on the patio with bistro lights overhead and the kids content as can be.
Insider Tip: Tuesday evenings is their $15 Beer & Burger special. The first 90 min of underground parking is complimentary if you dine at the Shores.

The Bottom Line

Whether you are visiting San Diego for the first time, one of our desert friends escaping the heat for a month at a time, or even a local trying to take a mini staycation The La Jolla Shores Hotel is the perfect setting for all of it.  You won’t find a more pristine beach in San Diego or a hotel with these types of amenities right on the beach. If you’re reading this after you already booked your trip or aren’t in a position to staycation yet, head down to The Shores Restaurant for happy hour or a sunset dinner and see first hand just how spectacular this property is. Even though our family will likely have to wait sometime again before our next visit, you’ll likely catch us there for a sunset happy hour living in our mini vacation for a few hours.

In Gratitude Legos in my Louis


Disclaimer: The La Jolla Shores Hotel was generous in gifting our family a stay at the property.  The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

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